Noe Valley Voice December-January 2011

Short Takes


Basketball Signups at UNRC

The Upper Noe Recreation Center is looking for kids who’d like to play this winter in a new basketball league.

If enough youth sign up, nine local teams of 8 to 10 players each will hit the hardwood starting in January and vie against teams from other rec centers in the city.

Upper Noe facility coordinator Thomas Iglesias said he hoped to field a team in each grade—from kindergarten through eighth grade. Players can join individually or be sponsored by local schools.

Teams will practice once a week at the Upper Noe gym and need no previous basketball experience. “They’ll be taught,” said Iglesias, who’s been a coach for 16 years.

Upper Noe Rec fielded three teams last year. Iglesias said he expects the excitement and energy of that campaign to spill over into the upcoming season. There will be seven games, two playoff rounds, and a championship game.

“We’ll have our own little Kobes and LeBrons playing,” said Iglesias, referring to NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. “We’re going to have packed gyms for sure.” 

Registration, which began Nov. 28, will continue right up until tipoff on Jan. 5. There is a registration fee of $65 for youths in grades K-4 and $75 for those in grades 5-8.

For more information, send an email to, call 415-970-8061, or stop by the rec center, located at 295 Day St. near Sanchez Street.

—Corrie M. Anders


Garden Tour Springs Into Action

It’s time to nominate your garden or someone else’s beautiful spread for the 2012 Noe Valley Garden Tour, the annual peek over the neighborhood’s back fences hosted by the Friends of Noe Valley.

Gardens eligible for this sixth tour can be of any shape, variety, and size, said Richard May, who is organizing the tour with Linda Lockyer, who chairs the group’s events committee.

“We are interested in everything,” May said. Past tour stops have ranged in style from traditional English to modern to traditional Chinese. Some are interesting for their edible crops, others for their beautiful flowers, he said.

“Last year we had bees, and before that, a sensory garden,” May said.

Two new and popular practices from last year will carry over, Lockyer said. The evening before the tour, garden hosts will have a chance to see each other’s gardens.

“They were all sharing information, it was really a lot of fun for them,” she said.

Then the next day’s tourists will have a chance to vote for a favorite. “A lot of the people who voted last year really liked the owner gardeners,” she said. “It was motivational—it made it feel like they could do it themselves.”

No firm date has been set for this year’s tour, but it will be in May because most gardens look nice then, said May.

Proceeds from the tour will go toward neighborhood beautification projects. Last year’s contributions built a garden at James Lick Middle School and added greenery to the Sanchez Street side of Upper Noe Recreation Center.

Nominated gardens will be viewed starting in January, May said. Gardens and potential beautification projects must be within Noe Valley, an area roughly bounded by Grand View, 21st, Guerrero, and 30th streets.

To nominate a garden, volunteer, or suggest a beautification project, email

—Heather World


West Side Story—Cool

James Lick Middle School students have ganged up to perform West Side Story in mid-January with a double cast of 60 who will sing and dance their way through the war between the Sharks and the Jets.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to express themselves through singing, dancing, acting, and learning how to work together,” said visual arts teacher Jake Stookey. Stookey’s past musicals at Lick have included Grease, Hairspray, and a bilingual production of Aladdin. 

It’s also a great opportunity for musical lovers to enjoy the result of 100 hours of after-school rehearsals guided by Stookey, choreographer Brendan Reilly, dance teacher Karina Vela, and vocal director Anthony Cavazos.

Every student who had an interest in the musical has a role, Stookey said. Each cast—Broadway and Hollywood cast—will perform two nights. This year, some of the students directed, too.

“They work in pairs and take a scene and do blocking and staging, which is a pretty big responsibility,” Stookey said.

Parents have raised about $7,000 for the school’s well-regarded arts program, which helps offset the cost of staff, costumes, and sets, he said. The songs will be accompanied by a professional pianist.

West Side Story runs Jan. 18, 19, 20, and 21 at 6 p.m. in the school’s art deco auditorium, 1220 Noe St. Donations are accepted at the door, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds, Stookey said. Call 415-695-5675 for more information.

—Heather World


Dufty Left in the Dust

One of the few surprises in the Nov. 8 election for mayor of San Francisco was Bevan Dufty’s dismal finish. The former city supervisor, who was the first candidate to enter the race, placed seventh overall and came in a distant fourth in District 8, where he had been Noe Valley’s representative for eight years.

Political analyst Corey Cook said Dufty got lost in a crowd of 16 excellent contenders—especially after interim mayor Ed Lee’s last-minute and winning decision to seek the position outright.

“I think he had difficulty differentiating himself from a field of very strong candidates,” said Cook, assistant professor of politics at University of San Francisco and director of the school’s Leo T. McCarthy Center.

Cook offered his assessment at a Nov. 16 election roundup co-sponsored by the Noe Valley Democratic Club and San Francisco for Democracy. The forum drew some 50 people to Parish Hall at St. Philip’s Church.

Cook said he saw Dufty at a half-dozen mayoral forums and many in attendance said he was “the best one here.” But when Cook asked participants if they were going to vote for Dufty, the response often was “no, not him. He can’t win.”

There was a “perception that he was not a major candidate,” said Cook.

Cook said the election for all practical purposes became a two-person race between progressive Supervisor John Avalos and Lee, the centrist, who had run the city for the past year.

“People thought the city was going in the right direction” under Lee’s stewardship, said Cook. “That’s why he won.”

Dufty, campaigning to be the city’s first openly gay mayor, finished in District 8 behind Avalos, Lee, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

In a Nov. 18 mass email, Dufty thanked his friends and supporters, telling them that “we worked hard, had fun, and stayed positive” during the race. “Right now, I’m not sure what’s next,” he said. “I’m focused on transitioning my amazing staff to new jobs.”

The city’s official results showed that Dufty was the favorite of 9,185 voters, or 4.73 percent of all votes cast. Douglass Street resident Terry Baum, the Green Party candidate for mayor, was the first choice of 3,095 San Franciscans, or 1.59 percent of the vote. Her rank among all the candidates was 11th place.

—Corrie M. Anders


Odd Days Ahead

Noe Valley’s Odd Mondays series ushers in the even year with four diverse evenings of authors, whales, and women.

Vera Haile of the Immigration Rights Commission and Emily Murase, who is director of the city’s Department on the Status of Women, will discuss women and their status on Dec. 5.

On Dec. 19, Alvin Orloff, who works at Phoenix Books’ cousin Dog Eared Books, will read from his third novel, Why Aren’t You Smiling? The story is a comedy about a suburban high school student who winds up in a Christian cult while trying to find the meaning of life.

On Jan. 9, Daniel Sudran of Mission Science Workshop will explore “Whale Bones in Noe Valley” by bringing in a nine-foot blue whale bone and some students to discuss it.

“I thought that would be cool for them to talk about how they’re learning by discovering and figuring things out,” said Sudran, who has run the hands-on science workshop in Mission High School’s former auto shop for seven years. Each year about 4,000 students get to poke at bones, peer through microscopes, and experiment with light in Sudran’s skeleton-filled laboratory. On Jan. 23, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory will be honored at a special reading by author Lizette Wanzer. Wanzer won a 2010 literary nonfiction prize in San Francisco’s Soul-Making Literary Competition.

All Odd Mondays are free and start at 7 p.m. at Phoenix Books, 3957 24th St. The evenings are preceded by a no-host supper at 5:30 p.m. at Haystack Pizza, 3881 24th St. If you’re coming for pizza, please rsvp to Judith Levy-Sender at

—Heather World


Songs and Dance and Rock and Roll

It’s all about free rock and roll at Phoenix Books this month, with holiday music for the kids and the story behind the scenes for the adults.

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, from 11 a.m. to noon, Tito Uquillas of local favorite the Hipwaders will perform holiday music for the entire family. Kids can sing along with many seasonal favorites as well as songs from A Kindie Christmas, the Hipwaders’ award-winning album.

Unlikely to be featured in Hipwader songs, the adventures of rock-and-roll touring life will be the subject of a book party for 33 Days: Tour Stories with Bill See on Thursday, Dec. 8. See’s memoir of his band’s first impoverished tour across the United States in a beat-up van includes yuppies, brothels, riots, spiked drinks, and battles with racism. Legendary troubadour Chuck Prophet will make a guest appearance at this evening of raucous stories, heartfelt songs, and cold beer, starting at 6:30 p.m.

In between, it’s time to be one of the 99 percent. “Occupy Phoenix Books” on Monday, Dec. 12, will feature two poets from 826 Valencia, Denise Sullivan and Michelle Tea, reading from their work. Americana duo McCabe & Mrs. Miller will provide the backbeat. The movement begins at 6:30 p.m.

Phoenix Books is located at 3957 24th St. For information call 415-821-3477.

—Heather World


Playwriting Goes Viral at the Marsh

Favorite Marsh Theater solo artist Charlie Varon will appear in a two-person play skewering Internet exhibitionism, FWD: Life Gone Viral, Dec. 3 to 10 at the Valencia Street theater.

“After 20 years of solo theater, I was getting lonely on stage,” said Varon. FWD started as an improvisation between Varon and his longtime collaborator Jeri Lynn Cohen. Along with director David Ford, the trio transcribed the rehearsal and built a script from there, Varon said.

“I’ve used [improv] a little but never as a main way to develop a play,” said Varon, who generally begins with a script. The result is a play with the mark of three people.

“It’s all of ours, and it’s something else as well,” he said. “It’s been a magical experience.”

Varon and Cohen play multiple characters, including an oncologist, her patient, their ex-spouses, and two expert commentators. In addition to online oversharing and viral videos, marriage, divorce, child-rearing, terminal illness, transmogrified flies, and beef jerky all find their way into the comedy.

And will there be some high-tech adjunct to the play?

“We’re trying to get something that works on the stage first,” said the longtime Noe Valley resident. Nonetheless, there has been talk of recording YouTube videos that could be seen at intermission.

The December sneak preview will turn into a full-fledged run in April, Varon said. FWD will show Saturdays, Dec. 3 and 10, at 5 p.m., and Sundays, Dec. 4 and 11, at 7 p.m. in the Marsh’s Studio Theater, 1074 Valencia St. at 22nd. Tickets cost $15 to $35 on a sliding scale. Reserved seating costs $50. For tickets, visit or call 415-282-3055.

—Heather World